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Teenager entertains Light Up Night audiences

When Daniel Starks opened his half-hour show Friday at the Kenmare Community Hospital nursing home, you could have sworn Ricky Nelson was standing behind the microphone.

12/05/17 (Tue)

When Daniel Starks opened his half-hour show Friday at the Kenmare Community Hospital nursing home, you could have sworn Ricky Nelson was standing behind the microphone.

Starks, a high school student, who in a way resembles a young Ricky Nelson, began with “Hello Mary Lou,” one of Nelson’s classics that was released in 1961.

And whether it was coincidental or intentional, it was obvious most of the 30 people in attendance were liking what they were listening to.

“My forte is ‘50s and ‘60s music, but I also enjoy performing music of all genres,” Starks said. “Gospel is definitely a favorite though.”

In fact, after several oldies that included Elvis Presley, the Ink Spots and Johnny Cash favorites, Starks and his father Jonathan, sang several Christmas duets and finished the program with several Gospel numbers.

Starks played two performances in Kenmare Friday. After his gig at the nursing home, he played at the Hometown Junkin’ Extravaganza that included the Gospel group the Shaw Sisters, the Alive Christian Fellowship worship team and some young fiddlers.

Starks was having fun and the crowd was having fun Friday afternoon. He delivered his introductions to songs in a humorous way that kept the audience interested.

“My preference is when I can banter and engage with an audience,” he said. “But I do enjoy all types of performances and setting the atmosphere with music for whoever may be wanting to listen. That is rewarding as well.”

The home-schooled student is a high school senior and learned how to play in church as he grew up. He said he’s been messing around with a guitar since he was about 4 years old.

“I grew up in a musical household and they had me singing since Day 1,” Starks said. “I started playing guitar at 4 years old and essentially taught myself.”

Kelley Reuer, the pastor at Alive Christian Fellowship, who arranged the music, said the goal was Christmas music, but it was clear that Starks was having fun passing through all three genres.

And Starks is no stranger to entertaining in front of a crowd. At 17, he’s already played the Norsk Hostfest, the North Dakota State Fair, the Dickens Festival in Garrison and at the state capitol.

“I have had the honor of playing quite a number of places, but one of my favorites will always be nursing homes and assisted living centers,” Starks said. “And the Kenmare nursing home residents will hear an original Christmas song that I am excited to share.”

Starks talked highly of the Shaw Sisters, who are Reuer and her sisters. In fact, the families have known each other many years.

“They are dear family friends,” Starks said of Kelley, Debbie and Kim. “They bring a tight family harmony vocal performance that is sure to grab you.”

This is actually the second time Starks has been in Kenmare and judging by the reception he got at the nursing home and the craft show, he’ll be back.

He says he’d like to pursue a music career after graduation, but he admits, it’s harder than it looks.

“It’s a tough career, but I am certainly trying my best to see where music can take me,” he said. “Nothing brings me joy like making others smile and laugh through music.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!